Key Research Questions:
- How does the knowledge of place influence teachers’ curriculum choices? What sort of knowledge about place is the most important for students to learn?
- Which aspects of place should be highlighted, and who should decide what is “important to learn” about a certain place? What do teachers and students already know about place?
- Where is place-based education most beneficial, in large urban areas or in smaller communities?
- How do we ensure place-based education doesn’t get too place-specific – how can we marry the local and the global?
- Descriptive: What are common techniques used in place-based education? What outcomes have been associated with place-based education? How have communities responded in areas where place-based education has been implemented? How can we incorporate global issues into local curriculum?
- Explanatory: Why is place-based education being implemented? Why have there been arguments that the current education system is not adequate in educating students about the place they live? Why is the current education system built around a four-walled classroom?
- Evaluative: To what extent is place-based education being implemented in various regions of New Zealand? To what extent should it be implemented? Should it be included in K-12 education, or is it more beneficial outside of school? What reasons do people have to support place-based education, and what are some reservations that people have about it? Should place-based education be used in treaty and other types of indigenous education?
- Instrumental: What steps need to be taken to implement place-based education in the school systems? Where is the most effective outlet for place-based education if not in school systems?
I will utilize a qualitative research approach, focusing on participant interviews and surveys, a service learning approach, and participant observation. I have experience using these methods from ED 255 (Education in a Complex World) and EVNS 220 (Environmental Analysis). Since research is place-specific, it is important to get as many different places as possible to strengthen the comparison without sacrificing the legitimacy and trust needed to receive honest answers.
My main intent is to find out what “place” means to individuals in these different groups and what they know about it. I will need to do my own in-depth research on the history of the area to compare baseline knowledge. I also plan to survey teachers, administrators, and community members about what they think the most important topics related to the local community are, since one of the other obstacles of place-based education is deciding who’s “place” to learn about.
I hope to conduct interviews with people from the Maori community, or people with extensive Maori knowledge, to figure out what the indigenous perception of place was and if it has changed throughout New Zealand’s colonization. From there I will see if this perception is taught in schools, and if learning about place in this way might benefit teachers and students.